jakub | June 10, 2024

Beyond Wonderland Brought Chicago Down The Rabbit Hole

Beyond Wonderland Chicago took over Northerly Island for the first time last weekend and it’s safe to say Chicago welcomed it with open arms. With a vast lineup, ravers from all over the country came to the midwestern city for the event. Even with the adverse weather, we didn’t let the rain get us down, but rather made the best of it! Beyond Wonderland brought Chicago down the rabbit hole, and we loved it!

Falling Down The Rabbit Hole

As a local Chicagoan, getting to the venue was a breeze, but what about those who traveled in? Day one had some Headliners a little lost parking and getting into the venue. Thankfully, flocks of people were arriving and could walk in together. Security was a breeze and made for efficient entry into the festival which kicked off a great weekend for all.

Photo Credit: Don Idio
Upon entering the festival, you can see the upgrades made this year compared to Heatwave last year. Heatwave was an incredible and small festival produced by Auris that put in effort to keep everyone happy. This year, Auris partnered with Insomniac to do that again but this time with more funding. This year the expansion of the festival meant the amphitheater was in use as well as making one of the stages covered. The swings and Ferris wheel whirred high above the grounds giving a breathtaking view of the Chicago skyline. It was the perfect breather for in-between sets.

Planning The Day Was A Breeze

Speaking of sets, I was happy with how they laid out the schedule! The hard part about festivals with big lineups is the conflicts. Beyond being on a smaller scale, conflicts seemed to be lesser for most people. The organizers knew what they were doing when moving the crowds from stage to stage. Sure, there were bound to be some conflicts here and there, but with the grounds laid out the way they were, sets could be split if needed.

Photo Credit: Don Idio

The highlight set of the weekend for me was Dimension as I am a massive DnB fan and would love to see more in Chicago. Audien b2b Jason Ross, Eli Brown, Reaper, and Oliver Heldens also put on incredible shows that will not soon be forgotten. Bassheads walked away impressed with Svdden Death, Habstrakt, and Ray Volpe. Some even said that Rezz had delivered the best set they’d seen from her!

Rain Doesn’t Stop The Mad Tea Party

The rain has been rearing its head at many midwestern festivals this year, including Movement Detroit and Suenos. Beyond Chicago was no different, but ravers danced through the weather. In fact, many of the people I spoke to enjoyed it! I met many who were enjoying their first festival and the rain played no part in their enjoyment. People saw it as an opportunity to let loose a little more and embrace the rawness of the music. There was plenty of PLUR and good vibes around, even as the sun was setting.

Northerly Island is a manmade island that posed a problem when it came to the torrential downpour. The grounds became muddy, slippery, and frankly, stinky. Day two came with plenty of sunshine but would it be enough to dry up the mess from the previous? Unfortunately, not. Hopes that straw, mulch, or some other solution for the mud would be placed down were squashed as they arrived for day two. However, that didn’t stop the dancing! Most made their way from stage to stage carefully and without incident. Unless of course, they wanted to! Plenty of ravers were diving into the mud and splashing in puddles.

Photo Credit: Don Idio

There’s Room To Grow

Concerns were raised by those in ADA and unfortunately, with the soft ground, movement was difficult for some. Wooden planks were put down in high-traffic areas to try to alleviate some of the stress, but it wasn’t quite enough for those with different mobility. Next year, I think more planning ahead of time could make the grounds more accessible in case Chicago’s unpredictable weather shows up again.

While sound bleeding wasn’t much of an issue, some said the amphitheater stage could have been louder. Cheshire Woods put out a lot of bass and it was hard for other stages to rival. Next year, I would love to see them work on making the Queen’s Domain louder so those in the back can hear more clearly.

The end of the day found festival goers dreading making the trek back to the loop. Thankfully, public transportation was available to get them on their way quickly. As people made their way to afters in the form of official parties, friend’s apartments, or just their beds, it’s safe to say it was a successful weekend. With PLUR very much alive, Chicago was a great place for Beyond to plant itself. With plenty of room to grow, we’re looking forward to the next

Want to run it back next year? Beyond Wonderland Chicago tickets are already on sale here! We’re crossing our fingers for a little less rain and just as many incredible Headliners next year. See you then!

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